Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Forgotten Stars--Dolores Costello

Dolores Costello (1903-1979) Posted by Hello

She was known as "The Goddess of the Silent Screen." Dolores Costello was the daughter of Maurice Costello, one of the most popular actors of the silent era. As early as 1909, Dolores, along with her sister Helene, began appearing in films alongside her famous father, and would work steadily throughout the 1910s and 1920s on stage and screen. Around 1926, a nineteen-year-old Dolores met actor John Barrymore, a man old enough to be her father. The two fell in love while appearing together in the film THE SEA BEAST and later married in 1928. The marriage between two powerful acting families proved to be a tumultuous one, marked by Barrymore's hard drinking and roving eye. After numerous attempts to save the marriage for the sake of their children, Costello eventually divorced Barrymore in 1935. Dolores continued her acting career and went on to appear in a number of films, most notably as "Isabel" in Orson Welles' THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942). But in a cruel twist of fate, the actress, know for her beauty, developed a horrible skin condition due to the heavy makeup used on film sets. The skin on her cheeks literally began to disintegrate. Forced into retirement, Costello lived in virtual seclusion until her death in 1979. The "Goddess of the Silent Screen" may have faded into history, but her presence has made an impact on today's film industry--she is Drew Barrymore's grandmother.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The New York Times > Movies > A Different Mexican Revolution

The New York Times > Movies > A Different Mexican Revolution

This article from the NEW YORK TIMES provides an interesting overview of the history of Mexican cinema. The article was writen in anticipation of CINE MEXICO, a 26-film retrospective of Mexican film at Manhattan's Film Forum in July, 2004.

Movie Rentals, Week of 6/21/04

I thought about doing a post like this on a week when I had rented "great" or "important" works, but what the hell, I'll start now. I will admit, I'll watch just about anything, and with unlimited monthly rentals at Netflix, I feel a little freer to occasionally indulge in what I like to call cinematic junk food. So in this spirit, here is what I watched this week:

STARSKY & HUTCH, Season 1, disc 3 (1975). Lord knows why I started renting this series. I think my original intention was to prepare myself for the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson version, but I also love the decade of the 1970s, so I've totally gotten into this for the fashions, the interiors, and that "tomato" Ford Turino. David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser are hoot--all hipster and earnest about their jobs (and each other!)--and Antonio Fargas rocks as Huggy Bear. Pure, cheesy fun!

A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON (1988). I rented this to relive my teenage River Phoenix crush. This is definitely not one of River's shining moments. I remember this film being bad when it first came out, and it certainly has not gotten better with age. River is in blond, pretty-boy heartthrob mode, with a support cast that includes a young Matthew Perry and Ione Skye. Ugh...I should have stuck with River's vastly underrated DOG FIGHT (1991).

ANGIE (1994). I rented this purely to see James Gandolfini outside THE SOPRANOS. No such luck here--he's basically playing a younger, more slender version of Tony in the role of Geena Davis's loutish boyfriend Vinnie. This film was okay, not great, but not terrible, either. Also with future Soprano regulars Aida Turturro and Michael Rispoli in supporting roles. It's going to be a long haul to season six of The Sopranos (September 2005)!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Hollywood Postcard, circa 1940s

Flicker Posted by Hello

Friday, June 25, 2004

Two-Lane Blacktop, or James Taylor--Who Knew?

When I think of James Taylor, I (like probably a lot of Gen-Xers) see an image of a middle-aged, slightly balding singer with tunes on radio stations with catch names like "Soft Hits", "Light Favorites", "Kozy" or what have you. But Back in 1971, he was a dark, brooding (and stunningly handsome!) lead in an independent film called TWO-LANE BLACKTOP. Directed by cult legend Monte Hellman, the film follows two drag racing drifters, Taylor and Beach Boy's drummer Dennis Wilson, as they race the incomparable Warren Oates across the American southwest with a mysterious hitchhiker, Laurie Bird, in tow.

TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is minimalism at its best. The characters have no name, the dialoge spare, the landscape barren, even the 1995 Chevy they drive is stripped down to its primer gray paint. This is a movie that sneaks up on you. I remember thinking in the middle of my first viewing that nothing much is going on here, but by the time the last frame dissolves into nothingness, I am stunned at the film's stark beauty. Produced during the Vietnam war and social upheaval at home, TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is a meditation on alienated youth. Many critics have noted that this film captures the mood of the era better than its more famous predecessor EASY RIDER (1969). I tend to agree.

This would be James Taylors and Dennis Wilson's only acting roles. Laurie Bird would only appear on screen two more times, in Hellman's COCKFIGHTER (1974) and in Woody Allen's ANNIE HALL (1977). All three, in their own way, battled darkness with tragic results. Wilson would drown in 1983 aftern drunkenly jumping off his boat. Bird would commit suicide in 1979. Only James Taylor, who fought drug addiction and mental institutionalization, seems to have come out on the other side.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Welcome to FLICKER, shining the light into the world of film. With this blog, I'll highlight favorite films, profile actors and filmmakers, and discuss a variety of topics related to film and its history. While there are exciting things going on in film today, this blog will mainly focus on the past--classic and obscure films, forgotten stars, unfamiliar histories, and so forth. I hope this site will entertain and inspire movie lovers of all kinds!

P.S. I am new to blogging, so please bear with me as I build up this page!